One of the proclaimed hallmarks of the United States, including Washington’s, judicial system is the fact that everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty. This applies to all people. So this applies to any accused person no matter what they are accused of. So this should apply to people accused of domestic violence.
However, if you or someone you love has been accused of domestic violence you probably feel like you are already being punished. You probably especially feel unjustly punished if you are the alleged victim and had no intention of pressing charges but your partner was arrested anyway because of the mandatory arrest law. You will have had a no contact order put on you. This will have made it impossible to converse with your partner either directly or indirectly. It has probably kept you out of your home. It may have made it difficult to go to work. It will have kept you from any children you have with your partner. You have had your gun rights taken away. If you have a job where a gun is required, you are out of work. You may have been ordered not to drink alcohol or have had other restrictions put on you. You probably already feel stigmatized by your family, friends or any else who is aware of the accusations.
Undoubtedly you want this whole experience to be over. Your defense attorney is required to bring you any plea bargain that the prosecution proposes. When he does it is likely that he will counsel you against taking it. You, on the other hand, may see it as a way out your current mess and may very well want to take it. It would be wise to listen to why he counsels against it. He knows what you are facing for the rest of your life if you accept.
Here are two facts you need to remember. The first fact is that a plea bargain is an admission of guilt and a conviction. The second fact is that an admission of guilt involving domestic violence can haunt you for the rest of your life.
You may wonder how and you definitely should be made aware.
Once you accept a plea bargain that involves domestic violence you will have a conviction of domestic violence on your record, perhaps permanently. You will have no choice of appeal or future dismissal – it is over at that point. You will then have a domestic violence conviction on your record on all databases. It will be difficult to get new employment as potential employers are getting more and more into the habit of checking these. As you can imagine they do not generally ask for explanations to convictions they see – they just do not call that candidate back. This will be the same problem if you apply to a school or for a loan or for public assistance.
Are you a teacher, doctor, lawyer or some other profession that requires a license? These disappear with a domestic violence conviction. So with a plea bargain you may get rid of a few current nightmares in exchange for the lifelong nightmare of losing your career. Are a you a police officer, in the military, a security guard or in any other profession that requires a firearm? With a domestic violence conviction, you lose your right to bear arms, indefinitely. This is another example of getting rid of a temporary nightmare for a lifelong nightmare.
If you are convicted, it statistically indicates that a divorce is forthcoming. This sometimes happens even when the other party knows that you were innocent; it happens because the whole experience is so traumatic and other parties pressure the other party to leave. This does mean you will lose all custody. It does mean you will be ordered to pay child support. It does mean that if maintenance is asked for it will likely be awarded.
As you can see – a domestic violence conviction is a life changing experience and none of it for your betterment. A plea bargain equals a conviction. If you are approached with a plea bargain listen to his reasons when he suggests whether you accept or deny the offer. As mention, he will likely counsel you to deny.
If you or someone you care about has been accused of domestic violence you will want a Pierce County / Tacoma defense attorney. In fact, it is likely you will never need a defense attorney more. Call or e-mail the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.